Loot_River
Follow Genre: Top-down, Action RPG
Developer: straka.studio
Publisher: SUPERHOT
Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

Loot River – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: A great and unique game that has been very well designed and visualized
Bad: Unlocking all the loot before you actually play with different loot feels off
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

It can be quite hard to come up with something original these days. Much like how it went with the music industry, game elements tend to get remixed and re-used, sampled, and twisted to build upon the work of others. Often, this leads to copies of successful games that are missing something unique of their own. Sometimes though, reusing existing elements leads to an original game that has its own amazing little world. Loot River is such an original game. It’s a great story of success where a top-down Souls-like game meets Tetris-like blocks. 

Loot_River

Story

Souls-like games often have a cryptic way of telling their story. They are all about saving the world, being undead, finding a purpose, and not losing your humanity. Loot River is no different in this aspect of the game. There is a base camp where you start and buy upgrades, and there are a few dungeons to visit in chronological order. While there is little said or explained in the game, there is some story at least. In the base camp, you have a woman named Iphis, and she exposed you to a relic that made you immortal. Now you essentially travel with a troupe through a multiverse where everything looks the same but is a little different. In each world you find yourself trying to finish the game to save that specific world. Succeed or die, and you go on to the next. This is the curse of you and your new friends, who are all immortal undead. Every time you unlock something or beat a small part of the game, most characters will have a few new lines of conversation for you, but you get none the wiser by most.

Graphics

Graphically, Loot River creates its own identity, and we were already quite impressed by what we saw when watching the game’s early trailers. The memorable level design exists of water and blocks on which you can stand. It’s admirable that Loot River only uses a few pixels for each character or enemy but manages to make something memorable out of them because they look and move in a unique way. The graphics in general are just very well done and very nice to look at, making the game comforting to play in its own way. It has beautiful shaders and water effects, and they are like a siren’s call.

Sound

The sound design is absolutely sick when it comes to sound effects. Sounds such as slashing, gutting, but also getting hit, they are all there in a good way. They sound like they have all been recorded and designed for unique movements and situations, by people who know what they are doing. This is not something you see a lot in indies as sound design is a whole extra department that most developers don’t want to invest in. There’s some great music in the background too, but we can’t really put it in a single genre. The songs are different for each environment and, like the sound effects, sound like they have been custom-crafted for the game, and this really pays off. Again, in all ways, Loot River is a rather original game.

Gameplay

Loot River is a top-down action RPG. It feels a bit like a twin-stick shooter but with more buttons to press. With your left stick, you walk around with the character. At the same time, you use the right stick to move a block that you are standing on across the water. You could also use a keyboard, but we and the developers heavily recommend using a controller. You can walk around on your block until it connects to another, and you’ll possibly have to fight enemies. Fighting happens with a variety of weapons and spells that have their own strengths. You can even parry enemy blows with most weapons, and you can dash around. All of these combat mechanics while moving blocks makes it a very interesting game, despite that combat sometimes feels a bit like hack and slash mechanics due to the fact that early on enemies are quite docile.

There are multiple shops available to you to buy stuff after finishing a dungeon (once unlocked), but shopping will not go the way you are used to. You have some gold that you get by killing enemies or smashing clutter, but gold can really only be used to buy a single random item that a shop offers you. If you have no use for that item, the gold is actually rather useless. Then there’s knowledge, the other currency that you actually use to unlock loot. The first time you unlock loot you can actually pick it up and exchange it for your current gear, but after that, it just gets added to the pool of random drops and purchases that you will encounter during the game. This means there is no guarantee you will get one specific build that you like. Spells, weapons, and gear will probably be different each game, and the true potential of the game is unlocked once you unlocked all there is to buy. While this is a fairly typical formula to unlock new items in games such as this, we would have loved a bit more control, or more items to be found at the start of the game.

Luckily, the game is challenging later on, and diving into tough battles with the gear you have gathered during your current run is exciting, mainly because you only have one shot at success. If you run out of health, you have to start an entirely new run (but you keep your unlocked items), so you try to make it count despite the small odds of succeeding. The game has quite a lot of replayability thanks to the random generator and also some modifiers that you unlock. These modifiers can alter the rules of certain enemies or even the game route through dungeons themselves. It’s all rather cryptic like the story, but it ends up being incredibly fun and mysterious, and we sincerely enjoyed playing this title.

Conclusion

If you like roguelikes and the Souls-like type of games, Loot River is basically a must-play. It has an ingenious concept that allows you to play for many hours, even though the game could be “completed” under an hour. Even though we didn’t exactly like the system where you have to unlock all the items before they drop as loot, we applaud the originality and the great game design that is Loot River. We will certainly be revisiting this one in the future ourselves.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Loot River - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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